Pink Floyd – Chicago 1977 (Sigma 147)

Pink Floyd – Chicago 1977Chicago 1977 (Sigma 147)

Soldier Field, Chicago, IL, USA – June 19, 1977

Disc 1 (51:49) Sheep, Pigs On The Wing pt 1, Dogs, Pigs On The Wing pt 2, Pigs (three different ones)

Disc 2 (63:29) Shine On You Crazy Diamond (pts 1-5), Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (pts 6-9), Money

Pink Floyd’s appearance at Chicago’s famed Soldier Field on their infamous tour to support Animals was billed as “The Super Bowl Of Rock n Roll” and like many on the more recent Super Bowls, was not without controversy. The band drew a massive crowd and while the gate receipts showed an attendance of 67,000 the band were not buying it and hired an aerial photographer who estimated the crowd to be 95,000, a major discrepancy, there was even a Federal Investigation into the matter, but this is Chicago, Baby. I have seen photographs from the event and it looks insanely packed, something that is corroborated in this recording.

There are two know recordings from Chicago, this new release comes from what is considered recorder 1 and was made by Jeff J (props!) and is the better of the two, this is a new stereo transfer that began circulating late last year. The recording falls in the very good range, for being such a massive crowd it has little disturbance from talkers, in fact most of the chatting you hear comes from the taper, but more on that in my review. All instruments, effects, and vocals come through clearly and it has nice sound for an outdoor venue. There is, however, a thick layer of hiss, wisely the label did not try and remove it as doing so would have certainly ruined the sound. The hiss is what drops this down to the VG range, yet the recording perfectly captures the atmosphere of the event.

The recording begins with the tranquil sounds of Sheep and the audience prepares themselves for the Floyd, the mechanical voices in the middle sound eerie and the ending is very bombastic as there were fireworks going off at both sides of the stage that gets the audience cheering. Dogs is nicely captured in this recording, the music floats around you and as with many of the American tour performances, the band is playing very well, more loose than the European dates. About 12 minutes in we can here the taper trying to direct people to seats away from his equipment, the hunt for seats will continue. There is a small cut after the song for a perfectly timed tape flip. Pigs On The Wing pt 2 has our mild mannered taper having to deal with people trying to sit down, somebody puts something in the way of his equipment, a person says I’ll move it and the taper thanks him. Thankful the songs solo makes for a peaceful situation.

Pigs (Three Different Ones) is excellent, the boisterous crowd throws some fireworks, people are blocking the taper and again he has to tell people to move “your blocking my sound…”. By this time Pigs is relaxed and features some great music improv by the band with Gilmour and Wright casually playing off each other, interaction that builds and culminates in rousing fashion with Dave letting loose in one final salvo. The second CD starts with the opening strains of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and the crowd greats it warmly, “don’t worry about it”. The groups 360 sound system is used more for the Wish You Were Here portion, sometimes it makes for a disjointed sound as Dave’s guitar floats around the stadium. His lead playing on Have A Cigar is superb as he really lays down some almost Heavy Metal playing, all the while our hero has to tell people “there’s no seats, not at all”. Rick Wright plays some nice piano fades amid the sounds of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (pts 6-9), very melancholy.

Some of the evening’s best playing is in the Shine On (pts 6-9), Roger starts the almost funky bass part well and David takes over, even Snowy White gets into the mix just a bit. There is also some difference of opinion about the encores, only Money is on the tape but there are some of the usual online discussions about if anything more was played with some saying that after another break the band returned with Us And Them and even played a Blues jam while the audience left. Although nothing exists on tape I am in the corner of Money being the sole encore. The band had been screwed out of thousands of dollars do to the over selling of the event and from what I have read, Roger was pretty pissed at the situation and find it hard to believe they would give something “extra”.

The package is typical Sigma, full color inserts from the tour imposed on Animals graphics, the usual sticker is included and the CD’s have pictures on them. As a bonus the label has included a mini reproduction of the Animals tour book, the resolution is excellent and is an excellent addition to this set. Great performance, yet the hiss is a drawback as there are much cleaner and more enjoyable recordings from this tour out there, so the casual listener will need to avoid this one, but for a seasoned Floyd collector this is a good release.

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  1. A question not necessarily in the correct place – more than being related to the 1977 tour: I just received in a trade a recording of the second set from the Lousiville, Kentucy show. I can’t find much info on that show, and no commercially released versions. Is anybody out there sitting on any additional information? The file I received is in very good sound quality so it would be great to see it commercially released …

    • The second set of the Louisville show is new to circulation, it is unknown if the rest of the show exists or not. apparently the person who taped the show taped other progressive acts in the area in the late 70’s. I have not yet heard the tape but apparently during radio surfing segment just prior to Wish You Were Here you can hear a radio station blurb that mentions Dixie Highway, a road that runs through the city. Great to see a new tape showing up after all these years.

      • Personally, I am not really a tape trader. I have somehow stuck to collecting commercial releases. But I received this as a bonus when buying something else and when listening to it realized that it sounds as good as most other -77 audience recordings (such as Chicago or the MSG’s – somewhere in between the two). If more emerged from this source it would be fantastic. Couldn’t agree more with you about how amazing it is when new tapes pop up after close to 40 years – is it regally THAT long ago since the Animals tour?!!

  2. I received mine today, and just managed a first listen. This may not be THE best recording from the -77 US tour, but I found it to be very highly listenable. It is correct as mentioned in the review that sometimes you hear audience chatter, but I personally don’t find it very disturbing. It seems to be at a reasonable level and not constant. The instrumentation is quite well separated and I don’t know if this is just me but it is possible that the recorder wasn’t completely in the centre of the stacks as some sounds seem slightly more prominent than usual – effectively providing my ears with another listening experience compared to other recordings.
    Now, I am a major fan of the -77 tour, but this a very enjoyable show and quite intense. Maybe the casual fan should get Oakland, Boston and Paris before this. But if you have those and come across this, don’t hesitate!

  3. Thanks, as ever, for the review.


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